July 1, or Canada Day, is one of the most important holidays in all of Canada. Even though it's not technically an "Independence Day," it's similar in idea and in the festivities to the Fourth of July in the U.S. And if you're in Vancouver, you can enjoy some of the biggest celebrations in the country outside of the capital, Ottawa.
Make the most of the day and spend it enjoying everything from colorful (well, red and white) parades and waterfront parties to watching fantastic firework displays when the sun goes down. Best of all? Most Canada Day events in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are absolutely free.
Most of the locations are served by transit but can get very crowded, so allow extra time to get there. Many celebrations take place all day so kids can join in the fun before nightfall when the fireworks light up the sky to celebrate Canada's birthday.
All of the events are either canceled or altered for 2020, so be sure to check the official event webpages before making your plans.
Granville Island Canada Day may be canceled for 2020. Check the official event webpage for the most up-to-date information.
Granville Island's huge Canada Day celebration includes a Canada Day Parade, an official Canada Day Ceremony with cake, tasty food options from food trucks to restaurants, live music, art, and entertaining performers, and a multicultural fair. The venue is perfect for families with young children: Bring a picnic blanket to relax and take breaks to let the kids run at the free Granville Island Water Park. There's also the Granville Island Kids' Market to keep them entertained if the sun becomes too much (or if there is a rainy day).
Waterfront Party at Canada Place
The Canada Place celebration is canceled for 2020.
Canada Place hosts Downtown Vancouver's biggest Canada Day celebration with a free waterfront party that includes live music and entertainment on three stages. The Waterfront Party is always a popular place to head for celebrations and the entertainment lineup features musicians, performers, kids' activities, street hockey, a circus show, live citizenship ceremonies, and a lumberjack show. Food trucks are on hand to feed the hungry masses and the Olympic Torch is usually lit in nearby Jack Poole Plaza to celebrate Canada's birthday.
Come out to Canada Place near the Waterfront metro stop from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on July 1, 2019, to enjoy the festival and party. The parade starts at 7 p.m., and if you stick around the pier is a perfect vantage point for watching the evening fireworks show.
Burrard Inlet Fireworks Show
The Vancouver fireworks show is canceled for 2020.
Cap off your Canada Day celebrations with this pyrotechnic extravaganza. The fireworks are set off near Canada Place and are visible from the north side of downtown, the east side of Stanley Park, Ambleside Park in West Vancouver, or from across the harbor in the Lower Lonsdale neighborhood of North Vancouver. They can't be seen from the south side of downtown, so avoid the beaches around English Bay.
The show begins at 10:30 p.m. on July 1, 2019, and lasts for about 30 minutes. It's the perfect way to end the evening before either heading home or off to the next Canada Day party.
Steveston Salmon Festival
The Steveston Salmon Festival is canceled for 2020.
Steveston, Richmond's historic fishing village, celebrates Canada Day with the Steveston Salmon Festival. The fun festival includes a special themed parade and Steveston's famous salmon barbecue, where over 1,200 pounds of wild salmon filets are grilled over open fire pits. For $16 per plate, you can enjoy a true taste of the best of British Columbia, although other food trucks are also on-site with delicious fares. But get there early, because the feast is over when they run out of salmon.
The festival is a neighborhood-wide event in Steveston, located in the southwest corner of the city of Richmond. From downtown Vancouver, they journey is about 30 minutes by car or just under an hour via the Canada Line and local bus. It begins at 8:30 a.m. on July 1, 2019, and lasts all day long.
Surrey Canada Day
Just outside of Vancouver, the city of Surrey in the Lower Mainland throws one of the most family-friendly parties in all of British Columbia. It's normally a day of carnival rides, fireworks, and special performances, but 2020 Surrey Canada Day will be a fully virtual event that participants can join in from anywhere in the world. Enjoy music entertainment, Indigenous performances, special guests, and an online fireworks finale to wrap up the day, all from the comfort and safety of your home.
All of the information for tuning in to the Facebook or Youtube page is available on the Surrey webpage. A special children's hour will stream live from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., followed by the bulk of the programming later that evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. You can even show your Canada pride by submitting a video and possibly being selected to be aired during the event. If you're unable to tune in during the live sessions on July 1, 2020, you can always go back and watch them later.